Britain's property market recorded the highest level of sales in more six years over the first three months of this year – but the surge came with a health warning from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).
Surveyors sold an average of 22.7 homes each in the three months to March – the highest number since February 2008 – with strength in the market spread throughout the UK, according to the Rics.
However, Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said that rising prices would put home ownership out of reach for those hoping to get on the ladder unless a shortage of properties was urgently addressed: "We desperately need more homes in areas where people want to buy and want to live. Until this happens we're likely to see prices to continue to increase and it is going to be ever harder for many first time buyers to conceive of ever owning their own home."
The number of properties coming on to agents' books fell marginally for a third consecutive month in March.
He added: "Now that the housing market recovery is well and truly underway and mortgage finance is more readily available, buyers seem to be looking to test the market right across the country, not just in the usual hot spots of the south-east."
The Rics reported a rise in house prices across all regions in March, with 57% more surveyors reporting an increase in prices than a fall. Outside London and the south-east the sharpest rise in prices was in the south-west and the east midlands.
The report will refuel concerns that a house price bubble is building in the UK. Last week Nationwide reported an 18% rise in London house prices over the past year, with prices up more than 9% in the rest of the country.
Responding to the Rics survey, Labour's shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds, said: "It is welcome that we are seeing a recovery in house sales but it is clear that home ownership is increasingly unaffordable for many low to middle income families and this government has failed to take the action needed to tackle the cause – a massive housing shortage. Under this government house building has fallen to its lowest levels in peacetime since the 1920s."
With no indication that the imbalance between buyer demand and homes on the market is going to change any time soon, surveyors expected house prices to continue to rise into the summer months. They predicted average house prices would rise by about 6% a year over the next five years.
The number of buyer enquiries increased across the whole of the UK with the exception of Wales where interest levels were flat.
Article from The Guardian